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About Terri Wells

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A First Interview for a Would-Be Test Subject

A First Interview for a Would-Be Test Subject

Posted by on Jul 5, 2013 in Medicine | 0 comments

Lately, I’ve been going to a lot of job fairs. At a few of them, I’ve spotted an unusual booth. It looks like most of the other medical-focused booths, but they’re not looking for employees; they’re looking for test subjects. Or, as they say in the vernacular, human guinea pigs. The first time or two, I looked at these booths, politely interacted, but didn’t go any further. At one job fair, they sought people with particular medical conditions; they even had a list of conditions. I didn’t have any of the conditions listed…but something made me take the next step of making an appointment. I think it was the idea of getting paid for my time, and free medical treatment. Hey, I’m not proud. So, late last month, armed with an appointment card, my natural curiosity, and a bit of trepidation, I made my way to Orlando. That’s where Clinical Neuroscience Solutions, Inc. is located. (By the way, a quick web search showed that they apparently have branches in West Palm Beach and Jacksonville, that they’ve been around since 1996, and they seem to have no reviews, good or bad). I took a short elevator ride to the second floor, where I saw a beautiful print of Da Vinci’s “The Measure of Man” (quite appropriate) on my way to their suite. I found my way into a waiting room that looked just like every other doctor’s waiting room I’d ever been in. After signing in, I filled out a medical history form, just as any new patient of a doctor would. This one seemed a bit more extensive than usual, but not onerously so. And then I waited. I didn’t wait long. After perhaps ten minutes, I heard my name, and was greeted by Letitia Griffin, a registered nurse. Rather than going with her into an examination room, however, she took me into an office. Here, she went over my medical history, asked me some questions to see if I was a good candidate for any of their studies, and let me ask a few of my own. She seemed to be both genuinely interested in me, and to...

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Biology Specimen Kit in an Altoids Tin

Biology Specimen Kit in an Altoids Tin

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Science | 0 comments

It happens all the time: you’re out on a nature walk, and you see a tiny, pretty leaf or a dead bug or interesting rock or something else that you want to take back with you and investigate. But alas, you’re unprepared to transport your new discovery! Fear not. With a little planning and a handy Altoids tin, you could be prepared for all of your amateur scientist experiments. Let me start this with the disclaimer that I’m not a scientist, though I do love science. What I’m suggesting here is a collection of items that should be easy enough to carry around in a tin that fits in most people’s pockets. If you’re teaching your kids about science, you may want to customize it for what they can safely handle, leaving out some elements, and perhaps including others. You’ll also want to customize based on what you plan to do with your specimens when you bring them to your secret lab. You should be able to find many of these items around the house. If not, try a dollar store. Either way, I’d recommend that you bring along your Altoids tin, or whatever container you plan to use, to make sure the items you’re considering will all fit. You might need to cut a few things down to size, if possible, or make some substitutions if you can’t. Start with the tin. While lots of people like Altoids tins, I prefer the kind that Sucrets used to come in. I’ve seen some metal tins that feature a tin held in place by pressure where the lid comes off completely, as opposed to the kind with a hinged lid that closes securely. Personally, I prefer a hinged lid; it’s easier to open and close. The outside measurements of my tin, when closed, are 2.5 inches wide by 3.25 inches long by 0.75 inches tall. As you fill your tin, make sure you can still close it securely! We’ll start with tiny plastic bags, the kind that are two inches square and press securely closed. Most people who have beads or make jewelry have plenty of these. You’ll want four...

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Resizing a Cardigan Pattern for a Big and Tall Man

Resizing a Cardigan Pattern for a Big and Tall Man

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Crafting | 0 comments

Say you love to crochet. And say that the man you love is big and tall. If you can’t find a good sweater pattern in his size, you might sigh with relief at the thought that your relationship is safe from the Boyfriend Sweater curse. If you’re like me, though, you’ll simply start calling it a “cardigan,” roll up your sleeves, take out your tape measure and calculator, and get into some serious math. To be fair, I’m going to tell you now that this is the first part of a series, and I don’t know how long it will be. I haven’t completed all the math for this project yet, but I did enough of it to make a start; I know what I need to do about the ribbing, the body up to the armpits, the sleeves, and the armscye. The rest will come, and when I get that far I’ll write another post. Right now, I’m going to walk you through what I’ve done so far, one step at a time. The first step, of course, is to choose the pattern and get the approval of your victim, er, recipient. In my case, I fell in love with Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby’s “The Varsity Sweater” in the September/October 2011 issue of the “Crochet Today!” magazine. This pattern goes up to size 2x; my beloved, however, is a 3x. In this case, that’s not a bad thing; I’m going up only one size. As you’ll see in a moment, however, I’m not going up one size evenly. The second step, even before you buy yarn, is to measure your cardigan recipient. Start with whatever measurement the pattern uses for sizing. In this case, it’s the chest measurement. The pattern’s largest chest measurement is 51 inches; my dearest’s chest measurement is a mighty 55 inches. If you work out the percentages, you’ll find that this is right around eight percent larger than the largest size. Need a little help? Here’s a percentage calculator I found online. I used the second line to find out that 55 is nearly 108 percent of 51. This means that I’ll need to buy eight...

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Cure for Diabetes Soon? Don’t Be So Sure

Cure for Diabetes Soon? Don’t Be So Sure

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Medicine | 0 comments

By nature I’m a skeptic, but when it comes to science and medicine, I’m a wild-eyed optimist. So you can imagine my mixed feelings of excitement and concern when I read the recent item out of Boston Children’s Hospital stating that their researchers had found the root cause of Type 1 diabetes. While this is cause for celebration, I think we’d better take a closer look at the implications for the future. Just in case you missed the news, you can check out the organization’s own blog post on the subject. I’ll sum it up for you: Dr. Paolo Fiorina, a researcher in the Nephrology Division at Boston Children’s Hospital, and his team have studied hundreds of pathways in animals with diabetes, and finally isolated one – known as ATP/P2X7R – which triggers T-cell attacks on the pancreas. These attacks make the pancreas unable to produce insulin, which gets the whole process of Type 1 diabetes underway. The whole blog post is worth reading, as it discusses other attempts at treating this tragic and painful disease – not just insulin injections, mind you, but transplants of pancreatic islet cells, used in an attempt to get the body producing insulin again so that injections are no longer necessary. Getting at the actual pathway for the attacks that cause the pancreas to become disabled could allow us to figure out a way to stop the disease process in its tracks. No children, then, might ever need to know the heartbreak that comes with sticking themselves with a needle multiple times a day, not eating cake and ice cream at birthday parties (even their own!) or other times, and more. I’m not even getting into all the nasty complications of the disease! I’m smiling and all but jumping up and down with joy at this news…but I’m tempering that with a small dose of reality. Let me explain. The first point is that this pathway was discovered in animals. If the team follows the usual approach, as I understand it, they’ll need to figure out how to block the pathway in animals before they can try it out in humans. In the...

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Crafting vs. Making: Is There a Difference?

Crafting vs. Making: Is There a Difference?

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Making | 0 comments

Blog website owners make a ton of decisions when carving out their little corner of the web. Not the least of these decisions concerns the categories to cover. You want clear differentiation, even if you’re covering a narrow niche. If you define your niche broadly, that should be easy. So why include categories for both “crafting” and “making”? Broadly, you could say they’re the same: you start with some kind of raw materials, and end up with a finished object. But looked at from a sort of historical or “look-and-feel” perspective, they aren’t. While people have been crafting and making things forever, when I think of “crafting” I think of sweaters and dolls and quilts and such made by loving hands at home, often with a distinctly 1950s to 1970s feel, because that’s the sensibility in which I learned my first craft. (It was crocheting, back in 1974, if anyone cares). “Making,” on the other hand, is a word coined by the “makers’ movement,” started and energized by the first MakerFaire, put on in 2006 in California and sponsored by O’Reilly Publishing, the same people who put out the computer books with animals on the cover and MAKE magazine. Yet it, too, has much older roots. Think back to magazines such as Popular Mechanics, or Bill Hewlett and David Packard building a computer (and a company) in a garage, or even the Wright brothers creating the first airplane. While Mom might be sewing some clothes in her attic craft room, Dad might be putting together a TV in his garage workshop. (Yes, there was a time you could buy kits to build TVs; look it up!). On the other hand, when that garage workshop focused on wood, and turned out glorious little boxes or tables or elegant pieces of furniture, we might remark without irony on the marvelous CRAFTsmanship. And at MakerFaires everywhere, you’re likely to seek people who consider themselves artists, crafters, and makers all under one roof (and sometimes they’re all the same person!). So what’s the difference? We can’t draw the line at traditionally “male” and “female” crafts (there’s that word again!). With the Lilypad Arduino,...

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